A green wall in Trafalgar Square this summer, offers deeper meaning to the term plant palette. The green wall was sponsored by General Electric and the National Gallery, as part of its Carbon Plan. It was designed by landscape architect Shelley Mosco.
It is based on Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses (below left). Shelley’s planting design (below right) uses pointillist planting blocks for texture and color contrast. She makes a rather convincing representation of the painting considering the limited color and variance in blooming cycles and winter color. The wall has 36 different species in 250×500mm modules, each containing 14 cells of 125×76mm). The living green wall is 4.8m x 7m and has over 8000 plants. Shelley is also interested in living green walls made with native plants, using a GIS system to guide plant selection for particular localities.
This green wall is a take off from others designed before it, the beautiful YVR Canada Line Station 4 Living Wall, located at the Vancouver International (YVR) Airport’s SkyTrain station, features a 17 metres high living wall with ferns, groundcovers, and wild flowers. Greeting international passengers arriving into Vancouver International Airport, the wall is a living tapestry featuring flowing waves of foliage, colours, and textures.
This might be considered what the typical green wall we see in magazines or website, perhaps in real life if you’re lucky.
With the increasing popularity of green-roofs the idea of green wall implementation seems to be pushing the envelopes even further! But this technology was thought to be limited to cities where the climate is mild enough to allow a plethora of plant species to easily grow. These next few projects will discredit that assumption. The creative use of materials and plant selection enables vertical gardening in almost any climate.
This image of the new vertical succulent garden at San Francisco’s Flora Grubb
Here is what happens when the irrigation system falters or gets neglected. I’m happy to report this minor failure in the irrigation system has been corrected and the plants are lush once again.
These projects exemplify how green-walls, alike green roofs, are coming into their own trends. While their implementation is limited to ‘high-end projects’ (their price may range from 60$ to 300$ per square foot depending on the system size and planting scheme), green walls add to the expanding entourage of systems which seek to surround urbanites with as much ‘green’ as possible. Green Walls offer a mode to artfully express planting schemes on a wide array of surfaces, and in a sense greatly expand the spectrum of space which can be modified to benefit the human experience and native ecosystems. Perhaps over time the price of these green wall systems will be reduced enough to enable everyone to enjoy environments embellish with green on the ground, walls, roof and maybe even ceilings?